Latest posts by Warren (see all)

After my Colorado motorcycle tour I flew via Minneapolis to Baltimore where I met a friend I had not seen in a lifetime.

We went to Gettysburg to visit the civil war museum. Trying to comprehend the number of young men that died is difficult but this is a excellent facility well worth your time to visit.

I like Touring motorcycles best. Only a couple of models have survived the ADV onslaught. Since 2018 I have been curious about the new Honda Goldwing so I rented one for this ride.

Alas whilst I booked the DCT model I was supplied a base model with 6 speed manual. Never mind it will still be an interesting experience.

First of many famous roads I ride is Skyline Drive in the Shenandoan National park. Getting there involves navigating the Washington DC expressway network which would have been very challenging except the Goldwing has a large LCD screen and built in GPS navigation. Using this I was provided superb turn by turn navigation with all important lane and junction guidance.

Skyline drive is inside a national park and I was able to use my all parks pass I had purchased on my Colorado ride. The road is lovely sweeping curves along a ridge top with many viewpoints and runs like this for 160 km. A superb afternoon of motorcycling.

I will talk in detail about the Goldwing in a separate post but if you have not ridden the new one you cannot imagine how good it is. I was wondering if I would need to ride slower on this bike but it corners great and I enjoyed the Skyline drive’s curves at my usual tour pace.

Tonight I let myself get spoiled a little with Mexican food and a margarita with my friend who travelled the Skyline drive with me before driving home. Much nicer than my usual on tour supermarket dinner but eating out here is expensive so I can only do so in moderation.

Much better than the food they call Mexican sold downunder.

Day one route.

The next famous road I ride is the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a mountain road that runs grade separated from the regular road network via over bridges and tunnels. This is designated a National Scenic Byway and an All American Road. It runs for 750 km through 4 national forests with no commercial vehicles permitted.

I just want to repeat that. A beautiful curvy road that serves no businesses and exists only to be a nice scenic drive and runs for 750km. I dare say – only in the United States could such a magnificent gift to riders exist. Construction started in 1935 and was not completed until 1987.

The weather today was unsettled and by mid morning I ran into rain and had to find shelter while I fit my liners. The rain was not heavy but I found myself mostly in cloud with zero visibility. At one of the Blue Ridge Parkway visitor centres I chatted to the ranger and she said I could exit in another 25 km and gave me an alternative route to my motel.

Two GS’s arrived. These new 1250 Adventures are physically bigger than the Goldwing. I got talking while they took shelter. They were riding the parkway north and gave me some info on roads to hop off and ride heading south.

I exited as the ranger suggested and took refuge in a Burger King. My Merlin gear, previously untested in the rain, was already showing some signs of water penetration.

I was on edge of storms so started south on lower height route then rode clear of the rain into blue skies so navigated back to the parkway with it’s delightful mowed grass verges.

The Blue Ridge Parkway has 200 lookout points along it’s route, some good people have already crunched the numbers and produced a guide to the top 20+ viewpoints and this excellent map so I will try to cover some distance each day – hard as it will be for a viewpoint chaser like me to not stop every one.

‘Famous last words’ as I stop at the next lookout where I met a rider from India. We chat at length. He lives nearby and rides this road on his days off which seemed a very nice arrangement to me.

I ended up being able to ride the rest of my route today as intended with fine weather.

Day 3

It is a fine day and my spirit soars this morning as I see the sign to rejoin the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I mentioned the parkway is grade separated from the regular road network and this is just one of many bridges that takes roads over you and makes it such a special route.

There are no shops on the parkway so I detour mid morning to get something for a picnic. This plan works nicely for me later today in a rest area with a bubbling brook.

I hop off the parkway at Little Switzerland. There is two famous roads here. The Devils Whip and The Diamond Back. The Diamond Back is extremely tight corners and reminded me of some mountain roads in Japan. The Devils Whip is great, still a technical road but more generous surveying and highly entertaining listening to the flat six growl. New Goldwing handles fine.

The signs have not had graffiti but the name of this one attracted attention.

The flat six engine in the Goldwing is phenomenal. I love it’s sound and turbine smooth power. I find myself running a lower gear just so I can wind the engine on a little between corners and listen to that Porsche like growl. I have not been entertained by a bike engine like this since the 90’s.

And then there is this scenery I am riding through. What an awesome experience.

Day 4

Some GPS misadventures this morning trying to get to the Cherohala skyway. Both my Garmin and the Honda navigation refused to route me onto this road and kept redirecting me around it.

I persisted and am glad I did so, the Cherohala skyway is one of the best motorcycle roads I have ever ridden. 65km of superbly surveyed road with every corner almost perfect. The road is in a national park thus serves no community or shops and is bypassed by other roads for normal traffic leaving the only people here motorcycle riders and the odd sports car.

I tried but could not capture it, there is no one place that overlooks the road. Here is a drone shot from Google, credit to whoever shared this.

After here I enjoyed some pleasant riding on Tennesee backroads that connect the skyway to what is perhaps the most famous bike road in the USA.

Then it was time for the Tail of the Dragon, 318 curves in 11 miles (17.7km) is the claim to fame. I know this road is heavily hyped like Stelvio but I still had to go see it for myself.

Was I disappointed? Actually not at all. The surveyor must have been insane because most of it is constant tight change of direction with off camber and decreasing radius. Not really my thing but as an example of a technical road to ride this is right up there.

A small bike like my G310GS fitted with set of supermotard rims and sporty tyres would be nice on a road like this and still let you work the engine. Litre class bikes would never get out of 1st gear. The Goldwing did better than I expected but the weight was pushing the front end couple of times.

This road attracts riders from all over the USA and has four full time photographers along the route. Nice to get a photo of myself on tour.

Of course a place like this is a magnet for idiots and some guys were riding dangerously. I was kind of relieved to reach the end and be out of danger.

Constant stream of bikes in carpark even on a weekday.

From here I rode half of the Moonshiner 28 route which was more generous surveying for a big bike. It sure has been fun to ride all the famous roads of the East I had read about over the years. These roads are up there with the best I have ridden in the world and much better than pinup roads like Stelvio that is photogenic but rides lousy.

Day 5

It’s a beautiful morning and I ride north now on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I again have this low traffic curvy road to ride the next 700km. It feels like I am a VIP with my own private riding road across the country.

I have not taken many photos riding north, I just wanted to be ‘in the now’ enjoying this special ride because I may never pass this way again.

This is the life for me. Travelling by motorcycle, tranquil setting for picnic lunches. At ease with myself.

Having a cooler bag has been invaluable on tour. I freeze a drink in motel overnight then can keep fruit and sandwiches cool until lunch. That is one hell of a nice touring motorcycle too. I’ll do a write up on it after this as lots to talk about even if preconceptions will drown out what I say.

Riding a motorcycle in cool mountain air with curves and views all day. Living the dream.

Day 6 is another wonderful ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery changes as I ride North from mountains to green rolling hills which reminds me of the region in northern NSW from Ballina to the border I used to ride.

Then the country side opens up more but the road still has plenty of curves I just find they don’t photo as nice as sections like this.

Wonderful day of riding, by now I am really at home on the Goldwing and wonder can you buy a bike just based on it having the best engine in the world.

More tranquil time out, my favourite part of each day.

One of the few sections in the north where the road offers a open view.

Well my luck with the weather ran out late this afternoon. I should have been off the road before this storm but I got chatting to a local riding a beautiful Honda CBR1100 XX Blackbird and he mentioned some roads I could detour on and the time got away from me.

I took shelter at a supermarket and did my nightly food shop while inside and used their bathroom to fit my rain liners then the rain had mostly passed by the time I was on the road. That bag on back of bike is my new Eagle Creek duffle with wheels (no inner frame) which replaces my previous one lost in shipping and whilst claimed to be waterproof the zipper leaks. Perfect bag otherwise for this purpose.

Day 7. Today I screwed up.

My route below was to return through the beautiful Shenandoah national park however the forecast was for storms all afternoon. I did not want to be on the insanely busy and very complicated Washington DC road network in that.

I decided to ride due East and this was ok with scenic countryside up to lunch however then riding north the traffic was insane. Stuck in endless traffic lights for about 50km. This is the only time I did not enjoy the Goldwing as I was not confident to lane split on it and fitted with a tall tour screen the air flow was limited in the heat.

Anyway I survived and had time to check in to my hotel and drop the bike back before any rain.

Some tourist stuff in Washington DC.

The roads were all fantastic this tour. The Blue Ridge Parkway gets better as you ride south. I originally planned to return north via West Virginia but was advised the BRP can often be affected by weather so I gave myself two chances of riding it dry and while I then missed some other notable roads this plan let me focus purely on ‘the ride’ when returning north which was nice.

As in the west, the people were super friendly everywhere I stopped and that elevated this ride experience. USA certainly is expensive for Australians, everything is double the prices we pay downunder but YOLO. It was worth it. The riding in the USA is so underrated as is the people experience.

Its about 15 hours to Australia from the west coast and another 5 hours from the east, not unsimilar travel time from Europe and with the time difference you really need recovery days in each direction. Since my last visit everything has gone cashless like Australia and this made the North American tipping custom much easier as there is buttons on the POS machine to automatically add a percentage and the sale doesn’t proceed until you select one.

Fuel is all pay at the pump now no going to the counter and authorizing an amount in advance like my previous visits but it was handy to have some cash as my credit card was blocked a couple of times by the finance company despite four phone calls to advise I was out of country. I used the rideshare service Lyft in USA and found it superior to Uber and the Goldwing was provided by Eaglerider. All very easy and a destination anyone can ride independently.


  1. Great write up! Sorry I couldn’t join you. You did the region justice.

  2. Sounds and looks like an awesome trip. Great photos and write up. Very well done.

  3. Find any nice “Tenbodai”?
    It looks like a great trip. Rainy season officially ends in Tochigi today. Still hotter than a snakes ass in a wagon rut. ?

    • Most of the Blue Ridge Parkway lookouts were not very high so I would say none come close to Japan, but it is a road along rolling hills and the views match that and were quite enjoyable. Very nice road.

  4. I had no plans to ever go back to the US but you gave plenty of reasons to change my mind — great read.

  5. Eric Harris

    I’m very happy that you were able to tour the USA and see these great roads! I’ll be heading north from Florida to Detroit soon on my FJR, looking forward to riding some of the roads that you describe along the way. -Eric, Tampa Florida USA

  6. It was great meeting you on the Cherohala Warren, and I see my warnings about the Tail were not unfounded! Looking forward to reading about more of your rides!

  7. Thanks for the great writeup. I’m from flat West TN and always envied the endless mountain roads in Japan, but your trip description made me think I am underrating my own state and I will definitely plan to go ride it.

    • Hi Eli,

      The Japanese alps are certainly special to ride however I really enjoyed the roads on this tour especially the Cherohala Skyway.

  8. Ticking off that bucket list mate. Good to see.
    I’ve never seen any decent photos of the Blue Ridge Skyway on other blogs. I figured if you can’t get any decent photos of it then it’s just one of those roads, great to ride but impossible to photograph its true beauty.

    Awesome stuff Warren.

    • Its really an amazing road Steve, sweeping corners for 90% of its 750km distance, a dream road really, I can’t think of anything that is close or comparable. Nothing in Australia is like it.

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